Questions and Answers relating to motoring offences in the UK.
Questions (in red) have been submitted by members of the public via our Free Legal Advice page.
All names and other specific details have been removed for reasons of confidentiality.


Answers (in blue) are provided by Emma Patterson, Principal Solicitor at Patterson Law

* Note that in Scotland, some aspects of the law may differ from the rest of the UK, you should contact a solicitor in Scotland regarding any offences alleged to have occured there.

AC10 — Failing to stop after an accident
AC20 — Failing to give particulars or report an accident within 24 hours
CD10 — Driving without due care and attention
1

I have received a NIP for driving without due care, failing to stop and failing to report an accident.

This happened when I drove to Bath. I was parking on the street around 10:30AM and then changed my mind to park at a pay & display car park because I was not sure if I could park on the road for free. I wasn't aware of any accident happening at that time. The only thing I can think of is that I might have clipped a parked car in front of me when I was parking on the street however there is no damage to my car and the time on the Notice is 17:30.

My car was parked at the car park at that time. I have 3 points on my licence and have been driving for 15 years.

I would like to ask if I have a defence in this case? Thank you very much for your time.

If you recall being in that place in that vehicle, it is likely that the time on the Notice is a typing error. The time needs to be confirmed with the police. If it does relate to when you parked on the street at 10.30am, you will need to get to the bottom of what they are saying has happened and what damage has been caused. It is likely that you did clip another vehicle unknowingly.

If it can be showed that damage was caused, you would have a defence to failing to stop and failing to report if you can show on the balance of probabilities that you weren’t aware damage was caused. You will need to show it was reasonable for you not to know. ‘Reasonableness’ will depend on the evidence and the extent of the damage. If for example extensive damage was caused, the police will not believe that you didn’t know about the incident.

With regard to driving without due care and attention, the police will have to show that the standard of your driving fell below that of a careful and competent driver. This again will depend on the evidence and what they are saying you have done. If a ‘careful and competent driver’ in the same circumstances had caused the same damage then you would have a defence.

The best course of action would be to liaise with the police and persuade them to allow this matter to be resolved through insurance companies. Incidents like this are the whole purpose of insurance. If the police are still considering taking it further, we will see if they will allow you to complete a Driver Improvement Course. This is an alternative to prosecution and will mean no further action is taken. It is certainly something we can help you with and have 96% success rate at persuading the police not to take any action.

CU80 — Breach of requirements as to control of the vehicle, mobile telephone etc
1

My phone rang and I answered on speakerphone and put the phone on my lap.

The officer said that he would state the above alleged offence, not specifically relating to use of mobile phone as this would assist with my insurance. I did say to the officer that I did not speak whilst holding my phone; I only answered it on speaker then spoke whilst it was on my lap.

I considered this did not differ from turning on my radio/ air con or similar – I welcome your advice re this matter, thank-you.

It very much depends when you answered the call. If you answered it and then placed it in your lap to speak, it is likely you would be convicted. This is on the basis that to be guilty of the offence, the prosecution have to show that you were holding and using the phone at the same time. If however you answered the phone when it was in your lap, it will come down to an argument about what constitutes ‘holding’. This is a very grey area as there is no case law to define holding.

The other issue of course is that the officer is suggesting he will prosecute for driving whilst not in proper control, rather than a mobile phone offence. This is an ‘all encompassing’ offence, as the officer won’t have to prove that you were speaking at the same time as holding your phone. He will simply have to show that holding the phone placed you in such a position that you could not have proper control of the vehicle or have a full view of the road and traffic ahead. You will need to place doubt on his evidence to show that you were in proper control of the vehicle.

If you want assistance, the best way forward is for us to prepare your defence and make representations to the police. We will try to persuade them not to prosecute you for either offence.

LC20 — Driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence
1

I bought a vehicle off GumTree and was told it came with two months insurance. I was even e-mailed a Certificate purporting to be from Admiral. I managed to get MOT and tax etc with this; even managing to get a PCO Licence using this Certificate.

I was stopped today and the police have impounded my vehicle and tried issuing a fixed penalty but I am on six points so will be summonsed.

I called Admiral but they had no record of this insurance at all. What do I do?

The first step will be to make sure that the insurance is definitely invalid, although by the sounds of it, you won’t have a defence. You will however have a strong Special Reasons argument. This is on the basis you genuinely and honestly believed you had insurance in place and this belief was based on reasonable grounds. The fact you were able to obtain tax with the Certificate will reinforce the fact you thought the insurance was genuine.

The first option will be to speak to the police and try to persuade them not to issue a summons on the basis it is not in the public interest to prosecute you because there was no criminality on your behalf. If they do not agree, then the same argument can be put forward to the Crown Prosecution Service once a summons is issued. If they decide to continue, you can present a Special Reasons argument to the Court and will have good prospects for Special Reasons being found. This means no points will be imposed. You have a strong case.

SP30 — Exceeding statutory speed limit on a public road
1

I have pleaded guilty to failing to name the driver of my car at the time of a speeding offence. I am the registered keeper of the car.

The court has asked me to attend for them to consider banning me for 6 months under the totting up rules. I have 6 active points already.

Did I enter the correct plea?

I was on holiday at the time of the alleged offence and I left my car with my employees. I run a small business. They had my permission to use the car in connection with the business and we have the correct insurance.

When I returned home I found a NIP waiting for me. I asked all my employees about who would have been driving at the time and they all denied being the driver.

Based on what you have told us you should have entered a not guilty plea.

Whilst you are the registered keeper of the car you were not the actually keeper at the time of the offence. You were therefore only under a duty to give information that was within your power to give. To convict you the court would have had to conclude that you had information about the driver and you did not give it to the police.

At trial the Crown prosecution Service would have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you did not give information that was within your power to give that may have led to the identification of the driver. The burden of proof is not reversed to you in a case like this.

I suggest we tell the court that your plea was equivocal and get the matter reopened and then try and get the allegation withdrawn without the need for a trial. You may then be able to alleviate the risk of a ban.

(After receiving this question we acted for this client. We persuaded the court to reopen the plea and the CPS dropped the allegation without the need for a trial)

2

I have today received a NIP re a claimed 38mph in a 30 zone on x March, at x, Lincs.

On that morning I was driving south from y to z. Although not native to the area, I know the location reasonably well and recall a camera van parked near a road junction on my nearside.

This vehicle was like the proverbial Christmas tree with diagonal stripes across the rear and, given my line of sight being in excess of 200m, I checked my speed as being 33-35mph and instantly slowed to exactly 30. The road was devoid of other traffic that might have impeded my sight line to that van. I have used Google Earth/Street view to confirm these location and distance recollections. My honest conviction is that, while not able to argue about 2 or 3mph above 30, I did not attain 38mph at any point.

Although this is a point of principle, rather than a potential fine, I do have very real concerns re another 3 points. With 2 fixed penalty motorway / dual carriageway convictions on my licence, another 3 would give me 9 points. Worrying! Your advice welcome!

I understand your concerns. The problem is the court will normally accept the officers evidence without expert evidence to contradict it.

I doubt you are going to want to contest this matter and instruct an expert to attend court with little prospects of succeeding?

The essence of your argument is that the reading cannot be right because you were not going as fast as the officer alleges. Therefore you would have to cast a reasonable doubt on the reliability of the officer's account of events.

An officer will normally convince the court that he spotted and zapped you before you spotted him and adjusted your speed. In any event if you stand up in court and give evidence on oath that you were doing no more than 35 in a 30 limit you will still be convicted.

A lot of the time I will be able to be more positive with my advice so keep my details and come back to me if you do get into any bother before some of those points come off your licence.

3

I have been caught speeding at 103mph in a 70mph limit.

I have 6 points already and am really worried about receiving a ban, as I am a professional driver.

I will lose my job if I couldn`t drive for a long time. I have a wife and 2 children who depend on me financially.

I have been summonsed to Court. Please help! I have no other qualifications and if I cannot drive I cannot work.

For a speed of 103mph in a 70mph, you are at risk of 6 points or a discretionary ban of up to 56 days.

The fact you already have 6 points means if you receive 6 for this offence, you are facing a totting ban of a minimum of 6 months.

You have two options.

Firstly, you could look to persuade the Court to give you a discretionary ban, instead of points, but for a short period of time. i.e. 7 or 14 days. No additional points means no risk of a totting ban.

If the Court gives you 6 points, you will have to put forward an Exceptional Hardship argument. You have to show the Court that you and those around you would be caused Exceptional Hardship if you couldn`t drive. The threshold is high but if you could show the impact losing your job would have on you and your children, you would have good prospects. Losing your job can amount to exceptional hardship contrary to some of the advice that you may read online.

You need to get the court to consider the knock on effect of you losing your ability to work. You have to attend court and give evidence on oath when you make this argument. It can be daunting so you should think about having help. Normally only around 40% of these arguments succeed so they need to be handled with real care and expertise.

SP50 — Exceeding speed limit on a motorway
1

On x February, I was pulled over on the motorway for speeding, by an unmarked car.

Apparently my quarter mile average was 96mph. This sounds about right.

I was issued a FPN, as the officer said that I was just within the limit for this and it was the most lenient punishment.

I surrendered my license on x March.

I called to pay on x March and was advised they could not accept my payment and I should call Sussex Police.

They in turn advised that 96mph is 1mph too fast for FPN and I would need to go to court. I received a later dated x April stating the same.

So I am now looking at 6 points and a £500ish fine??

Surely if they issued a FPN they cant changed their mind over a month later?

I`m afraid they can change their minds.

The ticket is an offer by the police to get the matter over and done with, without attending court.

It`s entirely at the discretion of the police and they can retract the offer if they so wish.

I`m afraid you will now get a summons to court and you will be at risk of 4-6 points instead of 3. Have you got any points already? If so how many? Are you a new driver?

 
 
Government guide to Penalty points (endorsements)

Patterson Law